What Your Baby Really Needs
When we are expecting our first baby, there are many things on the wish list to buy or be gifted; however here is the best piece or advice I have for any new mum. To give your baby the best physical start to life, all you need is your arms and a safe space on the floor.
That right! Cross off the bumbo, the swing, the jolly jumper, the walker and all those other positioning equipment you have on your list right now and you’ll be doing your baby the biggest favour in the long run. (Maybe keep a bouncer on the list as this comes in handy for shower time and meal prep times).
In the first year of life babies need to learn how to move their bodies freely and without restriction; and they need to have lots of opportunity to do this. Every time they are layed on the floor they are receiving proprioceptive (pressure) input through a huge part of their body, and as they move – roll to the side or onto their back, or twist around – they are making crucial connections between these parts of their body and their brain to help develop body awareness. As the child rolls or moves they also are using their vestibular system (movement processing system) to begin to make sense of gravity and how their body can work and move.
With sufficient amounts of unrestricted floor time the baby should develop naturally through their milestones in the order of rolling, crawling, sitting (that’s right they should not sit until they can get into the position themselves). As they move naturally through these milestones they continually make new neurological pathways that help to integrate primitive reflexes that are no longer required, and activate new reflexes that allow them to move to the next stage of development. When they do this naturally, their skills - visual, motor and cognitive develop naturally too.
When our babies are continually put into positioning equipment ie moved from rocker, to bumbo, to capsule, to jolly jumper, to walker; they are usually happy as they are engaged visually in their world, and when they get to school they are often good at visual tasks, and cognitive concepts; however they have no idea how to move their body in space; which leads to difficulties with gross and fine motor skills and problem solving. Babies need floor time to develop crucial neurological pathways and connections to establish the best foundation for attention, behaviour and learning.